Shadow Work is the latest EP from Boston based electronic musician Heiss, a true OG. He has been making music since the early 90’s in all sorts of scenes. From an orchestra to a jam band to old school raves, he is well versed and thoroughly experienced. His latest endeavor takes you on a timely trip through what’s bouncing through this beatmaker’s brain.
A concrete door in the jungle covered by leaves opens to reveal an underground club. This EP is playing. Jackson Whalan’s rhymes overlaid on the first track combination of simultaneously lush and beats is a fitting beginning.
Each wordsmith has their own perspective, style and depth. Jackson Whalan brings his unique blend of social movement music tied together with electronic hip hop. J Brave as one of the vocalists for 7 piece band The Luminaries has toured the world promoting core humanitarian values. Srikala is rooted in reggae, dub and world sounds.
As we drift through the jungle of stylish beats and slick words, it’s hard to not move to the music. Each rapper’s rhymes seem uniquely suited to each track. The technique of using different rappers on each track is an interesting approach to the concept of a shadow.
A shadow is something that is part of our presence that we can never separate from. It’s something that is with us always. Artists who are truly passionate about making music probably feel the same way. It’s something they can’t imagine living without. Clearly, Heiss feels the same way, as his lengthy career in all different genres can attest to. His ability to adapt and add to his repertoire solidifies his standing as a producer not going anywhere anytime soon.
[LIS] What is the last meme you felt a personal connection to?
What was a piece of music that made you want to make music?
Soul Slinger – Abducted [T-Power Remix]
Wagonchrist – “Throbbing Pouch”
If you had to make a snack for a important person and could only use the things in your fridge what would you make?
Chicken Piccata with Baked Potatoes and Cucumber Salad.
What was the last artist you saw that made you think differently about music?
All artists do that really – if I am watching another artist at work, then I am thinking about what they’re doing and watching the way they practice the craft in order to see what I might learn. “Beginner’s Mind” is extremely valuable and I work hard to keep it with varying degrees of success. When I think I’ve got it “all figured out” is when I need be most careful.
What is the last flavor in a meal that surprised you?
Thyme in Shepherd’s Pie.
How did you pick your collaborators?
Jackson Whalan and I have done many tracks together previously (“Brahman,” “8431 Miles,” “The Beast,” “Last Call”) and wanted to do more. J Brave and I did “Purple“ and also wanted to do more. Srikala is someone I have wanted to work with since I heard Skytree’s Keep It Sacred, Keep It Safe, we talked about doing a track together at the same 3DL festival where I met J Brave, and now it happened. He also came up and freestyled for a bit during my set there.
Were the beats or the rhymes first?
Beats. Almost always.
What was your last nightmare?
Many years ago, I used to have falling dreams all the time and would wake up terrified as I hit the pavement.
What is your definition of Shadow Work?
To me it means looking at my darker parts – the current and no longer necessary behavioral fallout from childhood wounds. Everybody has wounds. Everybody has darkness. It’s a continuum, but in what ways am I, Frank continuing to do any things that are left over from emotional losses long since past? These patterns, which can be recognized as mistakes in behavioral deed, are driven by subconscious words of inner thought dialogue, and will ultimately manifest the very same fears they are based on, if left unchecked. It’s a snow ball effect, especially when engaged with the reciprocal effect of someone else’s wounds. I’ve made fear based decisions and reacted to them, even recently, and I am still paying a price for that, because the dark world demands better – the strongest most authentic man I can be.
Make no mistake, “the boogey man” IS coming to get me… in my mind. And make no mistake, “the boogey man” can, and will, be defeated. This is represented by the grim reaper on the cover. There’s a movie called The Forbidden Planet that hints at a similar notion, but what to do about these uncomfortable truths? It’s not even about authenticity when I don’t know what I don’t know. Shadow Work, in my definition, is taking a hard look at this hiding baggage – to improve and to increase consciousness.
“Named your fear must be before banish it you can,” said Yoda, and the deepest fears are the ones hidden in shadow, which is why the phrase “Don’t Look Into The Light” is important, because if I instead turn my back on The Light, then shadow becomes visible.
I do not speak on behalf of the intent of the lyricists, but I did give them brief suggestion of direction in which to proceed, and their words brilliantly describe shadow. And I knew they would, which is why I chose to work with these talented men – they’re not afraid to be honest, but do it with courage and the same confidence that great emcees possess.
“Maybe you seeing in me what I can’t see in myself – thought I was keepin’ it stealth puttin’ these feelings up on the shelf.”
~ Jackson Whalan
“We become what we must – I look inside the mirror and I think I’m not enough.”
~ J Brave
“Undress your mind.”
What’s next for Heiss?
More of this! When Jackson sent me back the stems for “Shadow Work” and I listened to the vocals together with the music that Smigonaut and I had created, I literally got chills and realized I was listening to what I might jokingly call “one track closer to destiny.” I see music as a Spiritual journey toward mastery, and progress is a primary thing worth putting energy toward with focus – true concentration is the result of focus. Quality is not entirely in my control, but quantity and what I chose to release are within my control, so it’s awesome when God throws me a piece of progress and something of great quality happens – that’s the result of work and what it’s all for.
I am that guy who is into ALL different types of music. Mozart, Run DMC, Slayer, Phish, Rhianna, Merle Haggard, and lately Noisia, Foreign Beggars and some music on High Focus, so my journey toward genuine orchestration of all these parts has been a long one… By my own choice. I won’t arrive until I breathe my last breath, and I won’t stop until then either, no matter what some people might put in my way, but the Shadow Work EP is one step closer and I plan on continuing in a similar direction – working with conscious emcees and beyond, because hip hop is what inspired me to get into electronic music at the start.
I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite songs, that has nothing to do with hip hop, but seems pertinent.
Listen, should we fight forever
Knowing as we do know fear destroys?
Listen, should we leave our children?
Listen, our lives stare in silence;
Help us now.
~ Jon Anderson
Peace out everybody and thank you!
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